Esh Construction will lead. Credit: Newcastle City Council

Tyne Bridge works kick off

With the Great North Run dealt with, the four-year £32m refurbishment programme will start in earnest.

Esh Construction is leading on the work. Sixty thousand runners crossed the bridge as part of yesterday’s event.

In line with a timeline set out in July, the first phase of the programme will see engineers begin erecting scaffolding below the bridge deck around the Gateshead tower, having minimal impact on the travelling public.

From 2024 however, lane closures will be required as work moves on to the arch and road deck of the Tyne Bridge itself, to ensure the iconic structure can be safely restored. Newcastle and Gateshead’s councils will be announcing mitigation measures and advising on alternative travel options later in the autumn.

Cllr Nick Kemp, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “his is a very complex and challenging programme – with many constraints we need to work around to protect the heritage of the bridge, manage disruption to traffic and ensure the kittiwakes are protected.

“The project will take up to four years of restoration and refurbishment due to the scale of works required.

“There is huge support across the region for this work to get underway, as we all want to see our much-loved bridge shining proudly in the Tyneside skyline once again.”

Cllr Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: “The Tyne Bridge is an important landmark for the whole of the North East and we want to see this iconic structure brought back to the standard we all expect to see.

“We’re going to need everyone in the region who loves the bridge to do their bit to help us minimise the disruption that the restoration will cause to the transport network.

“It will be a proud day when our Tyne Bridge is restored to its former glory, ready for its centenary.”

With the Tyne Bridge being home to over 1,000 pairs of kittiwakes, the furthest inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world, all aspects of the refurbishment programme have been developed in consultation with wildlife groups to minimise disruption to this protected species.

With the kittiwakes having departed for the year now, the first phase of work will see scaffolding erected around the Gateshead tower, which will take around three months. The scaffolding will allow the steelwork adjacent to the Gateshead tower and above ‘By the River Brew’ to be fully sheeted which will protect the environment during the works.

Dubbed kittiwake hotels, nesting ledges will be built onto scaffold towers which the kittiwakes can use when they return for the breeding season next year. This would compensate for any nesting sites inaccessible during the refurbishment works.

In order to carry the work out safely and to protect the workforce and the public, lane closures will be required from early 2024, which will see the Tyne Bridge reduced to one lane in each direction during a significant part of the refurbishment programme.

As the Tyne Bridge is an important transport route, this would see capacity greatly reduced on a major cross-river route between Newcastle and Gateshead. Due to the scale and level of disruption expected when works move to the main bridge deck in 2024, the councils have already begun looking at a number of ways to help people plan their journeys, including promoting alternative routes and improving public transport links to ease disruption.

From next year, the major refurbishment includes steelwork repairs, grit blasting and re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.

These works will maintain the capacity of the bridge and future proof the route by alleviating the need for continual ad-hoc maintenance works.

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